.tOn occasion of lunar new year days, going to Hanoi temples or pagodas has become a good tradition amongst Vietnamese people as a way to to seek peace in their spirits.
Thang Long four district gates own 4 holy temples established with the aim of guarding four cardinal points. They includes East, West, North and South in ancient capital of Thang Long.
Bach Ma Temple (White Horse) – Hanoi temples
Lying in the eastern direction, being one of four district gates in ancient capital of Thang Long. Bach Ma Temple is one of the oldest and holiest temples in Hanoi. Built in 866 and completed in 1010 during the reign of King Ly Thai To. Until to day, this temple preserves special traits of architecture from Ly, Tran dynasties on a grand scale.
Legend said that a general named Gao Pianfrom the Northern Invasion went to our country to build up Dai La citadel. And then, he is nervous after his defeat in a magic fight with a god. He commanded to establish Long Do temple. In 1010, King Ly Thai To transferred the capital from Hoa Lu to Thang Long. He tried to rebuild the citadel many times but it always fell down. The king ordered people to pray at Long Do temple. In his dream at night, he saw a white horse coming out from the temple, wherever the horse reached traces of its footprints left. Continuously, the horse travelled all the roads and came back to the temple and then disappeared.
The king ordered his soldiers to build up the citadel following the white horse’s traces. As a matter of fact, the citadel stands firmly. King Ly Thai To named the guardian god of Thang Long after Long Do King. Since then, its name is “Bach Ma toi linh tu” (Extremely Holy White Horse Temple) and vary many times.
Bach Ma temple with ancient architecture dates back to Ly, Tran dynasties.
Typical of Hanoi temples, the temple has maintained lots of valuable relics like stone stele. It inscribes people with legends of it and Long Do god, documents of deification, rituals. Processes of repair and embellishment dating back from Le dynasty to Nguyen dynasty.
Voi Phuc Temple (Kneeling Elephant) – Hanoi temples
Located to the west of ancient Thang Long citadel, nowadays Voi Phuc Temple belongs to Ngoc Khanh ward, Ba Dinh district. In the past, Voi Phuc Temple, hidden under luxuriant ancient trees, lies beside Thu Le tranquil village.
In the folk stories, Voi Phuc Temple is memory of the cult of Linh Lang god. People believe that he help the king take care of the safety of Western Thang Long Imperial Citadel. According to legend, Linh Lang Dai Vuong (the Great Aristocrat) is the fourth son of King Ly Thanh Tong and his ninth concubine named Hao Nuong. At that time, Song Dynasty and Champa king sent troops to invade our country – the Great Viet. Enemies’ power was so strong that King Ky Thanh Tong ordered his messengers to travel the land and recruit talented people to fight against them. After hearing about that from a messenger. The prince requested the king to grant him a pink flag, a long spear, one elephant in order to defeat these enemies.
The statue of elephant prostrating in front of Voi Phuc temple of Hanoi temples
The messenger went back to the palace and reported the good news to the king. Therefore, he was happy to supply the prince with all the things he ordered, along with above five thousand troops and horses. Getting these things from the King, the prince shouted “I am the Heaven General”. Listening to his shouting, the elephant kneeled down allowing the prince to mount him. Riding on the elephant, the prince led his armies and defeated the enemies. As a result, the temple worshipping him was called Voi Phuc temple, one of four guardian temples of ancient Thang Long famous in the old days.
Kim Lien Temple – Hanoi temples
Kim Lien sacred temple guarding the South worships Cao Son Dai Vuong (Cao Son deity). Legend has it that Cao Son god – the son of Lac Long Quan and Au Co – one of fifty sons following his mother to the mountains. Along with Son Tinh (Mountain Genie), fought against Thuy Tinh (Water Genie) and brought peace to people.
Based on documents kept at the temple, soon after the establishment of Thang Long capital. Kim Lien temple was built by order of King Ly Thai To with the aim of protecting the southern citadel. In 1509, King Le Tuong Duc advanced his troops from Thanh Hoa towards Thang Long in order to overthrow Le Uy Muc. On the way, King Le Tuong Duc saw Cao Son Dai Vuong temple and immediately came into it praying for Cao Son god’s support. After that, King Tuong Duc’s ruling power began to take off. With his gratitude to Cao Son god secretly helping him. King Le Tuong Duc decided to rebuild the temple better and larger.
In front of the entrance to Kim Lien temple one of Hanoi temples
Afterwards, Kim Lien village’s people built three-door temple gate. People added some new works forming Kim Lien communal house, worshipping the Three Palaces, Mother Goddess, etc.
Inside the communal house, architectural decorations engraved lively and subtly feature style of art in Nguyen Dynasty. Currently, Kim Lien temple preserves the ancient stone stele dating back to 1772. On which the story and glorification of gods written in 1510 plus 39 Royal Proclamations throughout dynasties.
On 16th day of third lunar month each year, Kim Lien villagers conduct thier traditional festival and offering rituals acknowledging merits of the gods.
Quan Thanh Temple
Formerly known as Tran Vu temple, Quan Thanh temple dedicated to Huyen Thien Tran Vu deity. It was the place Taoist hermits lived and practiced their religion. According to Vietnamese mythology, the deity helped people expel evil spirits, sprites, and defeat invaders.
Quan Thanh temple was established by the order of Emperor Ly Thai To in 1010. For the purpose of protecting the North of Thang Long citadel. The most prominent item is a 1.5m high statue of Tran Vu majestically and solemnly sitting on a green stone ground. The 4 tons statue cast in black brass with 4 m height is evident in artisans’ fine art of bronze casting and sculpture at Ngu Xa village.
Quan Thanh temple attracts crowds of tourist on occasion of every lunar new year – Hanoi temples
Quan Thanh temple is designed in the sacred architecture andin front of the three-door gate built on blocks of marble are 4 high pillars. In addition to the bronze statue of Tran Vu, this temple still preserve lots of precious relics. Especially a big bell dating back to 1677 and bronze plate made in 1841 (during Thieu Tri reign).
Finally, Quan Thanh temple, along with Voi Phuc, Bach Ma, Kim Lien temples has made up four sacred guards of Thang Long – holy spirits of Thang Long.